App Store Optimization (ASO) is important for app developers to gain keyword visibility, downloads and retention on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. ASO can provide an app developer with the insights into keyword visibility, best practices for designing app pages and mobile marketing strategies. A good ASO strategy will help drive users to the app and convert to installations from high quality users at a low overall cost.
There are several key aspects to App Store Optimization. One must assess all of them to fully understand what ASO is and why it’s important.
What is ASO?
App Store Optimization is the process of improving the entire marketing funnel of an app. This includes optimizing metadata to increase organic search impressions, running creative A/B testing to improve conversion across all marketing channels and aligning organic and paid campaigns to improve the overall cost per install (CPI) of a campaign. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg; the optimization process is an in-depth analysis of all aspects of the app and user behavior on the app stores.
ASO is critical to any app marketing program as it sets the foundation for success. This can help apps get off the ground or provide new vitality for existing apps. The process includes optimizing keywords, designing an app listing to maximize conversions, retaining users and running researched and efficient paid marketing campaigns.
One of the first aspects of the App Store Optimization process is optimizing your product page and the keywords you want the app to appear in searches for. The goal here is to improve your app’s discovery in search results. This is important since the majority of app discovery happens in search results, making it a vital channel for an app to reach new users.
Users typically search for terms focused on functionality, features or specific brands. With that in mind, the app metadata should include terms related to the functionality, demographics and branding. A photo editing app will want to focus on editing and photography terms, a streaming app on live stream and video terms, an app related to a popular brand will want to leverage its name recognition and so forth.
At the same time, not all terms are equally valuable. It is important to identify what terms have the highest relevance and search volume. Doing so requires accurate data sets using mobile search volume. Using web search volume, which only has a 20% overlap with mobile search, risks targeting terms with little to no value.
After the metadata is updated, it may take some time for the store to index the app. On average, this takes up to 30 days on the App Store and 45 days on Google Play. After this point, it is recommended to update again in order to continue helping the app index for keywords.
Conversion optimization is another aspect of ASO that will help your app gain installs. One goal of conversion optimization is to improve your click-through rate (CTR). This signals to the stores that users are finding your app relevant for its keywords, thus increasing organic ranking and providing further visibility. Apps compete for clicks on a keyword-by-keyword basis, so the amount of clicks an app receives for each keyword plays a big role in how it ranks compared to the competition.
While keyword optimization focuses on organic search visibility, conversion optimization can help increasing app installs across all channels, including paid.
Conversion optimization takes place in both search results and product page. It requires designing all aspects of the app listing and testing to create variants that result in the maximum number of installs. This includes anything visible to the user that may impact conversion, such as the icon, title, screenshots, video and description.
When users see an app in the Apple App Store’s search results, they will see the icon, title, subtitle and first one-to-three screenshots. If the app uses portrait mode videos and screenshots, it will display the first three; if it uses landscape mode creatives, it will display the first one. On Google Play, users will see the icon and title, although for mobile games, Google has begun displaying screenshots and videos in the search results as well. The differences between how the platforms display search results and product pages is an important factor to consider when testing creatives.
Conversion optimization requires research into the app market to identify common trends and designs that could be contributing to high conversion rates. After identifying these elements, developers can run A/B tests on their own app listings to determine which variants result in the most installs. Continually testing new iterations helps developers create optimized listings that have a high CTR and conversion rate.
In addition to the benefits from advertising, paid marketing is an effective way to supplement your organic visibility. Beyond additional users to your app, paid marketing helps galvanize the store’s algorithms, which can help accelerate your organic indexation.
Apple Search Ads and Google Ads can have a direct impact on how an app ranks for keywords in the respective stores, whereas third party channels such as Facebook or ad network traffic impact how fast you can index for keywords. In both instances, the paid marketing traffic has a positive effect on your organic rankings as well.
The clicks gained from paid marketing helps improve organic rankings, so your traffic can improve even outside of the paid campaigns. The additional organic installs gained from this can potentially lower the overall cost per install.
Ultimately, paid app marketing plays an important role in a mobile marketing strategy. This is why many companies and developers run paid marketing as part of their ASO campaigns.
Getting installs is an important part of the App Store Optimization process, but it does not end there. The next step is keeping users engaged.
It is key to monitor your in-app retention, including tracking how users are interacting with the app and for how long. These metrics will help you understand your audience’s behavior and where the drop offs are. This can help you retain new users you acquire and bring back users you may have lost.
Additionally, understanding your in-app metrics can help identify any areas where users are encountering hurdles or user retention begins to drop. These are pain points that you can address in updates to improve retention. Uninstalls are factored into app ranking algorithms, so low retention can negatively impact how your app ranks.
Using these metrics as part of the optimization process can help lead to overall improvements to your users’ experiences. That in turn can lead to a higher return on investment (ROI) and positive reviews as the campaigns produce more loyal users.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of developing and improving all aspects of an app and its listing to maximize visibility, downloads and retention, making it critical for any mobile app marketing program. ASO best practices are designed to create the foundation for organic discovery and improve the efficiency of traffic leading to the app.
In order to properly implement an App Store Optimization strategy, it is critical that developers optimize for visibility, conversions and retention, as well as invest in paid marketing. Employing the right data and methodology can help lead to the highest quality users at the lowest cost and provide an app with the growth and visibility it needs to thrive. App Store Optimization can make the difference between an unknown app and the next success story.